Photo by Hans Hallgren

By the numbers

Students who scored proficient or advanced on Colorado Student Assessment Program writing tests in 2006-07

• East Elementary (grades 3 and 4): 38 percent

• Ridgeview Elementary (grades 3 and 4): 49 percent

• Sunset Elementary (grades 3 and 4): 39 percent

• Craig Intermediate School (grades 5 and 6): 47 percent

• Craig Middle School (grades 7 and 8): 51 percent

• Moffat County High School (grades 9 and 10): 46 percent

Source: Colorado Department

of Education

2006-07 CSAP writing test state averages

• Third and fourth grades: 52 percent

• Fifth and sixth grades: 59 percent

• Seventh and eighth grades: 56 percent

• Ninth and tenth grades: 50 percent

Source: Colorado Department

of Education

— Shannon Samuelson, Ridgeview Elementary literacy coordinator, said she wasn't surprised.

Across Moffat County School District, about half or less of students scored proficient or advanced on the writing portion of the Colorado Student Assessment Program last year, according to School Accountability Reports released by the state.

Samuelson thinks the scores fit with the district's emphasis on another state test subject.

"Our focus over the past few years has been reading," she said.

Recently, the state placed an emphasis on improving math and science CSAP scores throughout the state, Superintendent Pete Bergmann said.

Across the state as a whole, the Department of Education also has emphasized reading scores, said John Condie, Colorado Department of Education regional manager.

Christine Villard, Director of Student Services for the district, thinks the district complied with those demands.

"If you look at math scores : we've really concentrated on bringing those up," Villard said.

Still, improving and maintaining CSAP scores is "always a balance," she added.

The district's scores fall slightly behind last year's state average CSAP scores, which show that about half of Colorado students are making proficient or advanced marks on the test.

A common thread runs through the state and district test scores: The federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The legislation aims to ensure all students are proficient in reading and math by the year 2014. Adequate Yearly Progress goals measure whether states, districts and schools are on track to reach this goal.

The measure, which takes into account CSAP scores and participation and high school graduation rates, does not measure scores on the state writing test, CDE reported.

Regardless of the federal mandate's goals, the district is attempting to bolster its writing scores.

This year, the district sent 11 teachers from various schools to a writing conference created by the National Literacy Coalition.

The program, titled "Every Child a Writer," teaches "descriptive, explanation, instruction, persuasive and narrative writing" using various teaching techniques, according to the Coalition's Web site.

The Ridgeview Elementary teachers who attended the training "loved it" and have begun using it in their classrooms, Samuelson said.

She would like to see the program piloted in Moffat County, she said, but doing so would require additional funds the district doesn't have.

The reason behind the training goes back to the state assessments - both the writing test and the long-answer responses in other test subjects.

"There is so much writing on the CSAP," Samuelson said. "It's not just bubble in A, B or C."

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